THE END OF AM AGE
the armament industry was a growing and
enterprising one ; but we did not see the full
implication of that; we preferred to believe that
the increasing general good sense would be strong
enough to prevent these multiplying guns from
actually going off and hitting anything. And
we smiled indulgently at uniforms and parades
and army manoeuvres. They were the time-
honoured toys and regalia of kings and emperors.
They were part of the display side of life and
would never get to actual destruction and killing.
I do not think that exaggerates the easy com-
placency of, let us say, 1895, forty-five years ago.
It was a complacency that lasted with most of
us up to 1914. In 1914 hardly anyone in Europe
or America below the age of fifty had seen
anything of war in his own country.
The world before 1900 seemed to be drifting
steadily towards a tacit but practical unification.
One could travel without a passport over the
larger part of Europe ; the Postal Union
delivered one's letters uncensored and safely
from Chile to China ; money, based essentially
on ,geld, fluctuated only very slightly ; and the
sprawling British Empire still maintained a
tradition of free trade, equal treatment and
open-handedness to all comers round and about
the planet. In the United States you could go